The Port's Road to Recovery | iGym Salamander Bay develops new model for working out

Continuing the Port's Road to Recovery series, this week the Examiner looks at how COVID-19 has impacted the fitness industry in Port Stephens. The Port's Road to Recovery series aims to paint a picture of individual industries and social issues, how they have been impacted and what the future looks like for them - as told by those on the ground.

UPBEAT: iGym Salamander Bay club manager Carly Taylor, sitting centre, with her team. Instructors found new ways to reach members during the gym's closure in the lockdown period. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

UPBEAT: iGym Salamander Bay club manager Carly Taylor, sitting centre, with her team. Instructors found new ways to reach members during the gym's closure in the lockdown period. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

As soon as the doors to iGym Salamander Bay closed when the government introduced COVID-19 restrictions it began providing free classes on social media - a model that has blossomed into a whole new online platform post-lockdown.

Upon the Rigney Centre-based gym closing on March 23, club manager Carly Taylor, who is best known by her training name Carlz on Beat, and marketing manager Nick Scott immediately threw themselves into filming group fitness classes and posting them to the iGym Salamander Bay Facebook page.

"We asked ourselves 'what can we do to help the community?' So we started filming some group fitness classes that we run in the gym regularly. We had at least four running per day," Taylor said.

"We knew what it meant for people to come into iGym, how important it was for their physical and mental health, then how distressed they were when we went into lockdown.

"Offering those classes, we knew we'd give a little bit of hope, happiness and comfort especially at the beginning of the isolation period when the government was talking closure for six months.

"Mental health was also a big thing we wanted to try and look after. We also wanted to keep some sort of connection with people, let them know that we're still here, and a little bit of normality."

The classes, led by group fitness instructors Janene Jurd, Donna Sizer, Rachael Phillips, Kahlee Schneider, Simone Monique and Taylor herself, were pre-recorded and posted to the iGym Salamander Bay Facebook page.

Trainers then connected with participants in the comment section of the videos when they went live on Facebook.

The videos were not only available to members but the public at large including those who, now isolating at home, were previously busy at work during the day and seniors who could undertake the guided workouts in the comfort of their home.

Within the first week of launching the project iGym had amassed 80,000 views on their Facebook videos. By June 13, when the gym's doors reopened to the public, their videos had reached half a million views.

"From the huge response we got from doing that a whole new model has been created called iGym On Demand," Taylor said.

The subscription-based service will launch on its own website in July. The site will feature 15 different styles of workouts led by iGym instructors. The cost to sign up for the service will be $1.99 per week for iGym 247 members and $3.99 per week for members of the public.

It wasn't just the physical and mental health of adults that iGym instructors were looking out for during the pandemic, but children as well.

The iGym Salamander Bay team. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

The iGym Salamander Bay team. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Taylor and Schneider, who adopted a persona named Tiny from Funky Town, produced fun workout videos for children and even danced to music live on front lawns for families during the lockdown.

This, too, was popular with the public which has led to the creation of second online, subscription-based platform Kids on Beat.

In reopening the gym, social distancing is being enforced and a greater emphasis has been placed on pre-lockdown practices such as wiping down equipment before and after use.

Taylor said one of the biggest changes to the gym's weekly timetable is that even more classes had been added.

The timetable now offers 39 classes, five more than before the closure period.

Based on feedback the gym had received from its online videos during the lockdown, five seniors-specific classes were been added to the timetable - Mature Movers with Taylor and Stay Active with exercise physiologist Millie Harrison. These classes will also be available on iGym on Demand.

"We had a lot of feedback from senior members of the community who really suffered during isolation. We asked ourselves how we can help get seniors out again and being active again, which is where the idea for the classes came from," Taylor said.

The club manager thanked the community for its ongoing support of the gym and team.

"The team at iGym are incredibly overwhelmed and thankful for the support they received in isolation and in return for that we will endeavour to help the Port Stephens community no matter the situation. iGym and the team is always here for you," Taylor said.

Also read as part of the Port's Road to Recovery series:

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